Objectives: We explore the influence of initial enrollment at a community college on the attainment of a bachelor's degree. Methods: Using the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS: 12/17) and propensity score analysis, we compare baccalaureate degree outcomes of recent high school graduates who reported their intention to earn a bachelor's degree and initially enrolled at a community college to those students who began at a 4-year institution. Results: We found initial enrollment in a community college has a negative effect on bachelor's degree attainment. Our findings are consistent across varying outcome and sample specifications. The magnitude of our findings is consistent with a recent meta-analysis. We found that almost two-thirds of our sample who started at a community college enrolled in a 4-year institution, a fact that has important implications for practice. Contributions: Given the recent research suggesting that more comprehensive programs can drastically increase community college students' attainment (e.g., CUNY ASAP), we advocate for additional supports for bachelor's degree-intending community college students. Since the majority of those who start their education at a community college enroll in a 4-year institution, we add to the growing call that discussions about ways to improve the success of bachelor's degree-intending community college students must include 4-year institutions as partners.
Community college entrance and bachelor’s degree attainment
A replication and update